Nancy Pelosi
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Nancy Pelosi and The Three Trips of Captain Cook

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on August 20, 2009

According to this message, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi showed herself to be as “dumb as a box of rocks” when she fumbled a question supposedly designed to detect a mental deficiency.

The message claims that Ms Pelosi asked a “noted psychiatrist” how one could easily detect a mental deficiency in a person who appears completely normal. The psychiatrist answered that one could ask a simple question that any “normal” person should have no problem answering and suggests as an example the question “Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?”.

Pelosi supposedly reveals her stupidity when she cannot answer this question claiming a lack of historical knowledge as an excuse.

However, Nancy Pelosi made no such telling gaffe. The story is in fact just a reworking of a silly joke that has circulated in various forms for more than forty years and has no connection whatsoever to Pelosi.

Most versions identify the dumb subject of the joke as simply “the hostess”, (or host) often at a “blond gathering”. This more generic version of the joke has been posted to a great many joke websites – often in the “Blond Jokes” section – and has also been published in various printed joke books. It even made an appearance in Volume 100 of the “Shipbuilding and shipping record” published back in 1962.

Thus it seems that some prankster has simply substituted “Nancy Pelosi” for “the hostess” and then relaunched the joke on an unsuspecting world. The Pelosi version of the joke has now been circulating in various forms for more than a decade. It is often posted to politically orientated blogs and online communities.
People sometimes tend to believe without much forethought stories that cast those they dislike or despise in a bad light. This might explain why so many people actually believe that this silly joke describes a real incident.


Subject: Nancy Pelosi Dumb as a box of Rocks


A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi happened to appear. Ms Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.

‘Would you mind telling me, Doctor,’ she asked, ‘how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?’

‘Nothing is easier,’ he replied. ‘You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track.’

‘What sort of question?’ asked Pelosi.

Well, you might ask, ‘Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?”

Pelosi thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, ‘You wouldn’t happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don’t know much about history.’

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,